In three sweeping tableaux vivants, artists Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke present a rich cartography of identity at its most granulated potential. The rigid boundaries erected by conventional interpretations of collective, conditional, and bodily identities are torn down in The Jettisoned: anatomic mechanisms present sickness and health as being part of the same process of sustained loss; anachronistic renditions of epic gestures deplete the national epic of its definitive qualities; crypto-judaic ritual offers veiled signs of a heritage while simultaneously dissolving it into another religious tradition. Fittingly, The Jettisoned engages these interstitial spaces with an equally nebulous aesthetic approach, a filmic rendering of the painterly tradition of the tableaux. However solitary and ambiguous the sites it explores are, The Jettisoned offers the possibility of abject recognition.
The tableaux vivants, or living paintings, that constitute The Jettisoned were shot in Chicago, Warsaw, and Mexico City. Each video channel functions as an entire documentary collapsed into a single scene. The Mexico tableau arranges a cross-temporal vista of crypto-Judaic history in Latina America, performed in collaboration with families of crypto-Jewish desecndents and community leaders (along with ritual artifacts). The Warsaw tableau utilizes a soviet era animal surgical theater as its site of production, taking on parodic poses of monuments and figures from Polish national epics. In the Chicago tableau, Goldstein and Zielke’s memories of their homelands Netanya (Israel) and Detroit (USA) meld with childhood recollections of body horror, performed by their friends and families inside a former industrial soap factory.
“These bodily fluids…are what life withstands, hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being. My body extricates itself, as being alive, from that border. Such wastes drop so that I might live, until, from loss to loss, nothing remains in me and my entire body falls beyond the limit — cadere, cadaver.” – Julia Kristeva